In a previous post, I summarized both my experience as a church planter and my doctoral research into the “11 Keys to Building Second-Generation Leadership”.  In that study, I discovered that those eleven  components can help build a vibrant second-generation leadership, BUT they are not sufficient for making disciples.

As your church plant grows, people need to grow.  When shepherds neglect this need, there is an exodus of those early supporters who leave in search of a place that is willing, and able, to feed their soul. If you want to keep your leaders from feeling the need to leave after the first couple years of planting, then the qualities that helped make them good leaders in the founding Core Team, need to be nurtured and developed so each person can become a flourishing disciple of Jesus.

In my research, I found that the following six characteristics were not necessary for people to become good leaders in a church plant, but they are essential if those same people are to become mature disciples.

  1. Teachable in Discipleship: Disciples have a growing desire to live a holy life of service and are willing to take direction and correction as needed.
  2. Humble Service to Church: Disciples recognize the growing needs of their church and are willing to expand their service to the congregation.
  3. Teachable in Scripture: Disciples start with a basic knowledge of Jesus, and continue in a life-long process of submission to the doctrines of the Apostles revealed in the Scripture.
  4. Bible Knowledge & Passion: Disciples have a desire not only to learn, but to demonstrate the truth of God in their daily experience.
  5. Mentoring Others: Disciples know that to grow, they must become disciple-makers.
  6. Small Group Participation: Disciples resist the impersonal inertia of a growing church, so they seek out small groups where they can exercise their gifts and demonstrate Christ’s love.

Church Planters… don’t be satisfied with a great start.  Find ways to build these six qualities into your ministry.  Finish well and bring all your leaders into mature discipleship!

Read more articles like this on my regular Column @ ChurchPlanting.Com

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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